“Who’s your friend that likes to play?”

There is a scene in the Disney Pixar movie Inside Out where Bing Bong is sad because his space rocket has been thrown away. Joy needs to get to headquarters and tries to cheer him up by being happy and silly, but Bing Bong keeps being sad and won’t tell her how to get to the Train of Thought. Then Sadness walks up to Bing Bong and tells him she’s sorry that his rocket his gone, that it must have meant a lot to him. She gives him a hug, he cries on her shoulder, and he opens up to her. Joy tries to interrupt to say there’s not time for that, but once Bing Bong has someone to sympathize with him, he says he feels better and points to where they can catch the Train of Thought. On their way, Joy asks Sadness, “Hey, how’d you do that?” Sadness starts, “Well, I just -” and then the train arrives.

We know how she did it.

Sometimes all I want is to talk about my problems. My feelings. It helps me feel better to have someone listen and not want to jump in with solutions. Just to be there, to reassure me, to be supportive or say something like, “I’m sorry that happened.” Or “I know how that feels.” Or “What a sucky situation.”

I know what the solutions are. It’s not like I haven’t done the research, and the new information often can overwhelm me with yet more things I can do wrong or have failed at. More often than not I have applied this new information and am still frustrated. There are situations where I feel utterly helpless; there are times when I need to feel the uniqueness of an experience in my life before understanding that others have traveled a similar journey. This is when I can best feel the support of humanity, once I peek out of my self-involved bubble and am reminded that I am not alone.

It might just be certain personalities to offer fixes right away. And it’s definitely my accommodating personality to accept these people while still feeling horrible inside. Yes, thank you for trying to help, but that’s not what I need. Yes, I will feel better soon, but I first need to be allowed to feel sad/helpless/frustrated/embarrassed. That’s a part of my process, and it helps me in the long run if I don’t dismiss it or diminish it in any way.

Of course I try not to be melodramatic or overreact, and I’m resilient.

A not-so-heavy example: Yes, I’ve been complaining the past seven weeks about my cold. But should one suffer with a cold for that long? Should I rearrange my life around coughing, since it has wedged itself into my schedule? Should I just say “Oh, well” when my ribs are bruised from coughing so violently and for so long? No. But these things have happened to me, and I plan to get through them and to rise up stronger and more determined than before.

But for now, my body still needs to expel phlegm. But when I do this, or laugh, or take deep breaths, it hurts my ribs on the left side.

What’s my process? First, whine about it. Check: I’ve told several people, who range in sympathy, from: “Have you been checked for pneumonia?” to “Oh, man, I’m sorry. That sucks.”

Next, process this feedback. I’m glad that I could tell people who were willing to listen. I’m grateful for those who stepped back and truly sympathized/empathized. And I’m learning to be grateful for the form of concern people offer as suggestions or solutions. People mean well. And people have different points of reference.

Next, question myself: Wait, what am I doing trying to understand the people I want to understand me? Why does this feel like a bigger effort from me all of a sudden?

Next, return to feeling grateful: People love me, and they care.

Next, keep on keeping on: I’m going to make sure I get plenty of sleep and food and exercise. I’m going to work hard at work and be a good mom and wife and friend, one day at a time. Hopefully enough days pass to heal my ribs and make my cough go away.

Any time along the way, this process could repeat itself any number of times.

I’m well aware others are in far worse situations. The not-so-heavy example of my bruised ribs partly serves to imply that much heavier issues are going on in my life. I’ve talked to some people about those issues, implemented these very steps of handling my emotions and becoming stronger and moving forward with my life. The sadness, helplessness, and frustration would be a much greater burden without this process.

It’s a blessing to share these clunkier and unpleasant parts of my life with the people who mean the most to me. Thank you for being there.

 

I Had A Great Week

It was profound and eye-opening. And I wish I could describe it. All the great and marvelous happenings definitely countered the confusion and hurt.

I’m taking everything in the same stride. I’d rather feel hopeful than upset, and my chances for that increase when I don’t dwell on the bad stuff. Acknowledge the negative, allow a reaction, be grateful, then move on. Be better. What else is there?

Simple focus.

Still listening to the Freelance Whales. Here’s the last song on Weathervanes.

Lyrics:

We beg rebirth to take us up
Parade our souls out by the back gate
Some claw the ground
Some cut the air
Some warm the seas
But what will you be and when?

And I swim through dirt to find you out
And a whale without his family history is
And I used to shout to find my way in the water
Find my distant memory failed

Look into the reigns of a great estate
Better lights pull you out of the ground
Seep into the wood of the great estates
Animals your soul will guide

Give into the reigns of the great estates
Better lights pull you out of the ground
Seep into the wood of the great estates
Animals your soul will guide

Give into the reigns of the great estates
Better lights pull you out of the ground
Seep into the wood of the great estates
Animals your soul will guide

Give into the reigns of the great estates
Better lights pull you out of the ground
Seep into the wood of the great estates
Animals your soul will guide

Give into the reigns of the great estates
Better lights pull you out of the ground
Seep into the wood of the great estates
Animals your soul will guide

Folks

I’m fine. I go through little bouts of loneliness and self-pity, and it wasn’t nice of me to fall silent for a couple days on such a melancholy note. Things are looking up.

For those who provided advice and encouragement and support, thank you.

I’ve been offered a job where I can work from home. It involves writing (yay!), but it limits me creatively somewhat (meh). But it’s cash flow, which is what I need.

Another company also extended another round of interviews for hiring in New York City, and I let them know where I am and declined the offer. She said she’d let me know if they’re looking for anyone to work from home.

These both happened on Monday, after I boo-hooed, and during the time many of you asked how I was doing, making sure I was okay. I do have to say that was the quickest hour of intense misery I’ve ever experienced.

Again, thank you.

Yesterday I went to the gym, and today I can not wash my hands without feeling the burn in all my major muscle groups.

I hope I recover quickly.

Reading for the Train

Emerson’s essays jumped off the bookshelf two nights ago and into my backpack. Why not. I feel introspective and feel the need for more perspective, and Emerson was definitely prospective.

He’s kind of like the richest chocolate you’ve ever eaten. Delicious, succulent; to relish, not to devour quickly but to let the flavor linger on the tongue and the aroma float through your nose and electrify the brain cells. It’s hard for me to handle more than a few paragraphs at a time.

So I began where I always begin: Nature. This was the breakthrough piece. People in his day paid attention when his writing emerged and they gathered in droves where he’d lecture and at his doorstep when he got old. I’d definitely want to be his friend, or at least high on my celebrity sightings list.

I opened the book and began reading. I immediately came across a passage in the first paragraph blows me away every single time: “Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a  poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?” 

I don’t want to get obnoxious and quote the whole thing.

This is pure stuff, this elixir of elemental observation. And then it just keeps going, how every word absorbs through the skin and warms and invigorates. The paragraphs move along, my mind makes associations, and if my eyes had hands they would hoard all those words into a stash and try to use them as wisely as Mr. Emerson did.

It always impresses me how the spiritual intellectual often “gets it.” Sure, Emerson was more existential and C.S. Lewis was more about theology, but they both knew what was going on. They took a look at history and religion and their own personal philosophies, and they wrote and they enlightenened and I just want to sit in a room full of people like these two men and listen to them. People who have passed and people who are still living. I want to hear their opinions on the theoretical and the applied. I want to know what their perspectives are on life, from both sides of Heaven’s door.

This will hold me over on the train for a good while.

In other news, last night was a seminary scripture mastery event. During the scripture chase portion, the clue was read, the students turned to hopefully the correct reference, the answer was given, everyone reclosed their scriptures.  But, a lone voice contested the answer. I recognized that voice. That voice came from a student who is in my class.  I walked over to my student (I was judging other teams at another table) and I nudged the student and said, “Leave it to my class to dispute something.” 

The student argued the answer. In a nice way, of course. The student stood behind the answer that wasn’t the one prepared for that particular clue. The student received the points. Of course.

That’s the way I like it.

Not that I had anything to do with that situation, but I couldn’t have been prouder. Emerson would have been proud, too.